The events in India in 1856/7 were caused by the issue of the new cartridges to the Sepoys in the Bengal army How far do you agree with this interpretation of the Indian mutiny?

Authors Avatar by masonjewitthotmailcom (student)
“The events in India in 1856/7 were caused by the issue of the new cartridges to the Sepoys in the Bengal army” How far do you agree with this interpretation of the Indian mutiny?

The Indian mutiny of 1857 was a watershed event in the history of British India, during the period of the 100 year rule it was the largest and most substantial threat to the British rule and was the ultimately the end for the rule of the East India Company in India. After which the British Raj were to take over as the ruling body in India with the Queen as their sovereign. The treatment of the Sepoys in the Bengal army, the arrogance shown by the British towards the Indian culture and practises, the proposed idea of forced westernisation and the liberal reforms which the East India Company introduced on the Indian people were all major factors as to why on the 10th May 1857 Sepoys disobeyed orders from their British superiors in Meerut and then turned on their superiors and murdered all of the British soldiers who surrounded. These reasons alone were building huge amounts of tension between the Indian people and the British rule however the spark with ignited the mutiny was the issue over the new cartridges for the rifles used by the Sepoys in the Bengal army, it was rumoured that the casing for the cartridges was sealed with cow and pig fat which would go against beliefs in Muslim and Hindu ideologies. Most historians see the issue of the cartridges as the trigger for the mutiny beginning and not as a substantial cause of the mutiny. Judd, Brendon and Marshall share similar views in this sense however see different as to what was the main cause of the uprising of the Sepoys and the cause of the Indian mutiny, whilst Bandyopadhyay sees the issue of the cartridges as a strong factor as to why the uprising occurred in 1857.

The Bengal army was largely made up of Sepoys who were predominantly Muslim and Hindu, and when a rumour was leaked that the cartridges on the new Enfield rifle the Sepoys would be using were greased with cow and pig fat then it sparked uproar with the soldiers. With singular ineptitude the British ensured that it contained both cow and pig fat.” Brendon; The decline and fall of the British Empire. The cow fat was significant to Hindus as they are a huge believer in the caste system and if any cow meat or fat was to come in contact with their lips then they would be reduced in the caste system, as for the pig it was seen as a dirty animal and a “swine” and therefore is not acceptable in Islam. A lot of Indians saw this as a direct insult to their religion and were totally outraged. “Hostile reactions to the new cartridges first occurred in February 1857” Judd; The Great Indian uprising of 1857-8. Tensions had been building between the British and the Indian people now for years and this insult to their religion was the final blow, there were already previous rumours of forced westernization of the Indian culture so in the Indians mind it was a fight for survival. “It confirmed the Sepoys old suspicion about a conspiracy to destroy their religion and convert them to Christianity” Bandyopadhyay; From Plassey to partition. The Indians had already tolerated British arrogance by the East India Company taking over profitable business in India and sending the profits back home while the Indian people worked for minimal amounts of money doing all of the tough labour. Therefore it was only a matter of time before they could not stand anymore and finally stood up for what they believe in, the cartridges incident was the one which in turn pushed the Indians over the edge and forced them to retaliate. “Of itself controversy need not have led to a general uprising.” Judd; The Great Indian uprising of 1857-8. Highlighting the issue of the cartridges was the issue which sparked up the entire mutiny and was the reason the events occurred did so. From looking at these sources it is clear that the cartridge issue was not one of the main causes of the Indian mutiny however without it then the treatment of the Indian people and the Bengal army could of continued, the cartridges was the spark that was needed to open the Indians eyes and for them to realise they had to stand up and fight for their cultures survival.
Join now!

The liberal reforms which were put in place during the East India Company’s rule in India were a main reason as to why the mutiny occurred and the EIC ultimately lost their grasp on India after the mutiny and were replaced by the British Raj. One of the main reforms which aggravated the Indian people was the change in the revenue system and rules on taxation. “Taxation was more rigorously enforced; it took time foe winners to emerge in this situation” Peter Marshall: British India and the ‘Great rebellion’. The Indian people would of seen this as a ...

This is a preview of the whole essay